Whether you want to work for a school, for a private educational institution, or for an individual student who considers hiring you to help them with their learning, you will always have to pass at least some sort of an interview.

Surely enough, questions will differ when you interview with an institution (or professional interviewers), and with an individual (a student or their parent). In first case you can expect a longer interview, and more sophisticated questions.

On the other hand, a student will ask you only basic questions (about your availability, pricing and experience), and whether you succeed to convince them depends mostly on the connection you manage to build with them during the meeting.

Now we will look at 17 questions you may face in your tutor interview, and I will give you some advice on how to answer some questions. Enjoy!


Can you tell us something about yourself?

Try to focus mostly on relevant things, such as your education, the number of years you’ve been teaching (tutoring), courses you went to and certificates you got.

If you are applying for a job of a language tutor (English, Spanish, any other language), tell them about the years you spent abroad, in countries where the language is spoken as a native language.

When you interview with a student, you can talk more about your hobbies and passions, trying to find something the two of you have in common. If you find something, it will help you to make a connection, and everything will be much easier afterwards, for the rest of the interview.


Why do you want to work as a tutor?

If you also teach, you can say that you hope to make some extra money. Perhaps you are trying to save for a house or for anything else. And since you enjoy teaching and have time, why would you not teach also in the afternoons?

When you have no background in education, you can say that you enjoy helping students to learn difficult subjects (or a language or anything).

You can also refer to working hours. Maybe it suits you to work in the afternoon (when most tutoring classes take place), since you have some other job or business in the morning. You cannot teach at school, but surely you can help some students in the afternoons.

Remember that your tone of voice is even more important than your words. They should hear some enthusiasm and get an impression that you really want to work as a tutor, and will enjoy your job.


Do you have any references?

A good reference from your previous employer, or from a couple of students you helped before, can make all the difference in this interview.

If you still have time but no references, try to ask some of your former students to write something nice about you. They can do it on your profile on some tutoring portal, on Facebook, or they can simply write something, print it and sign it…

You should always have at least one or two phone numbers ready, so your interviewer can call your former students and get some feedback on your teaching skills. And surely you can notify them upfront, so they expect the call.


What teaching methods do you prefer?

If you apply for a job of a language tutor, you can point out a specific method, such as Callan method or Direct method.

In any other case, however, I suggest you to stress individual approach to each student. First and foremost you try to understand what goals they follow when hiring as tutor (trying to graduate, preparing for an important exam or an interview in a foreign language, etc). Then you try to understand their abilities and limitations.

Once you made a good picture about their goals and skills, you’ll choose the most fitting teaching method. You may actually alternate between methods, becasue what works in one lesson may not work in another one.

female teacher explains a lesson to her teenage student

You try your best, but the student still fails to understand the lesson. What will you do?

Patience is the word to remember. Excellent students rarely hire tutors--they do not need them. Students who are failing do, and they will form the majority of your clients, at least when you work with young people.

Anyway, ensure the interviewers that you won’t give up easily. You will use demonstration, practical examples, interactive exercises, and other means of getting the message over. You are sure that the student will eventually get it, and if not, then they are likely really a lost case (you can omit the last part of the sentence in your job interview :)).

Special tip: Download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

How would you deal with disruptive students?

It is foolish to believe that all students will respect you as a tutor. Many times a parent will pay for the classes, or the employer, and you know how the saying goes: what we get for free we do not treasure.

You can suggest several things at this point:

  • trying to make the lessons more interesting and engaging for the student
  • having a one on one with them, trying to understand the problem and address it accordingly
  • explaining them the implications their potential failure (in a school entrance exam, or school leaving exam) will have on their future life

If nothing works, however, you may talk to their parents. Another alternative is simply dismissing the student, because it makes no sense to teach them when they aren’t interested.

What’s more, when you teach a group of students, you do not want to let a single one spoiling the morale in the entire classroom.


How do you set goals and make lesson plans for your tutoring?

You can stress individual approach, and communication with the student (or with the person who pays for the tutor). You will inquire about their goals, why they need a tutor, what they expect, and what they want to learn.

Once you have the information, you should be able to choose the right topics and prepare some realistic lesson plans. You can also say that you plan to review your goals on a monthly or quarterly basis, since it is hard to estimate the pace in which the student will be able to progress with the lessons.


Other questions you may get while interviewing for a job of a tutor

The questions below are more straightforward, and no hints are needed. Some of them may sound strange to you, but remember that students are not professional interviewers, and they may ask you some questions that don’t make much sense.

When it happens, try to maintain your focus, and answer the question…

  • What are your hobbies?
  • How much do you charge per hour?
  • If I will be sick or won’t be able to come to the lesson for some other reason, do I still have to pay you?
  • Do you provide invoices, or do you prefer cash payments?
  • Where will the tutoring sessions take place? Can you come to my place and teach here?
  • What is your opinion on Skype tutoring?
  • How are you better than other tutors on this website (in this group, at this school, etc)?
  • What do you consider your biggest weakness as a tutor?
  • What is your availability (what hours can you teach)?
  • Do you have any questions?


Connection can sometimes make all the difference

You do not need to be the best mathematician in the city to give tutoring classes to ten years old students. It’s enough that you understand the subject, and know how to help them to understand it. What matters, however, is whether you manage to build a good connection with them in an interview.

If they like you, if they feel at ease with you, they will typically give you a chance, even when you provide just average interview answers.

But when you fail to make a good connection, even the best possible answers won’t help you to get the position. Keep it on your mind while interviewing for a your next tutoring position.

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Matthew Chulaw
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